Vegemite is all the hours mum spent rolling bread dough. It is aprons dusted with flour, some on her face, some on the floor. Vegemite is fresh bread’s scent wafting down the hallway, toasted and buttery. Vegemite is childhood slathered on top of those memories. The yellow labeled jars emptied and filled with beach glass and buttons, cicadas and worms. Pennies. Vegemite is the reminder that I never saved up enough pennies to make it home. Vegemite is the billboard of my dream vacation. Vegemite is an adult migraine, I can no longer eat the stuff, but I do, once a year or so. The migraine pain reminds my body of being away from the place it was born. It helps me miss the other side of the earth. The migraine pain after I eat Vegemite once a year, helps me mourn, helps me cry out the feelings in my body. Vegemite is counting in Maori, my hearts other language. Vegemite is the continental divide between Canada and New Zealand, the difference between the home I knew and the home I know. It is the fear that I won’t return, that somehow planes and ships and all other means to get there will cease. Vegemite is the fear that I’ll never set foot on Aotearoa again, that I’ll have to be content with memory. I wish I’d stolen the taste of watercress, the sound of a tui, the smell of the Aorere river – as if a river could be stolen – put it all in that jar. Swallow the jar whole. Breathing and singing, singing and breathing. A lid lifted off. Another home inside me.


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